(NaturalNews) Many people are constantly bugged by headaches, and while the commonly sought solution is over-the-counter medications, you could try these simple steps and remedies to obtain much-needed relief.
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and usually take place when the muscles of the scalp, face or neck tighten and squeeze the nerves. It's characterized by steady and constant pain that starts at the forehead or the back of the head and can extend over the whole head. Stress, unhealthy posture and hypoglycemia are possible causes.
On the other hand, migraines are vascular headaches characterized by throbbing and sharp pounding pain in the head. Sufferers may also experience symptoms such as tingly or numb feelings in the body, blurred vision, seeing bright spots, anxiety, fatigue or disturbed thinking. Migraines are more common among women.
First thing you need is quick relief
• Lawrence Robbins, MD, and Fred Sheftell, MD, cofounder of the New England Center for Headache in Stamford, Connecticut, both agreed that ice is an excellent tool for quick pain relief in acute attacks. Ice helps to reduce pain by soothing swollen blood vessels pressing on nerves, blocking pain transmissions to the brain, and reducing metabolism, which lowers muscle contraction. Reusable ice packs or wrapped ice can be used - be sure to cover the ice with a thin cloth or paper towel to protect your skin. Use only for 20 minutes at a go.
• Try rubbing some peppermint essential oil on your temples. You could mix it with lavender, eucalyptus and rosemary oils for improved effect.
• Press on the acupressure point at the thick and fleshy part of the web between your forefinger and thumb. Feel for tender areas and press and rub them using the thumb and fingers of your other hand. You should experience an achy feeling which isn't painful. Pregnant ladies should avoid this point.
Lifestyle and dietary changes would help chronic cases
• Consume a healthy diet comprising mainly natural whole foods including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds.
• Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily. Soda, coffee, and alcohol don't count.
• Exercise regularly.
• Implement relaxation strategies daily - deep breathing, meditation, visualization, yoga, etc.
• Stay away from sugar, alcohol and caffeine, or at least reduce your intake.
• Identify potential food allergens and stay away from them. An allergy test could help.
• Stay away from monosodium glutamate (MSG), as it can trigger headaches in sensitive persons, in particular migraines. According to Gerard Guillory, MD, "80 to 90 percent of my migraine patients can avoid headaches completely if they eliminate all sources of MSG from their diets." You may not see "MSG" on an ingredients list, but it could still be present, masquerading as "hydrolyzed protein", "yeast extract", "maltodextrins", "autolyzed yeast" or a number of other names. The best way to avoid MSG is to reduce your intake of processed packaged foods and focus your diet mainly on natural whole foods.
• Aspartame, the compound found in numerous artificial sweeteners, could also trigger migraines, and Dr. Guillory suggested avoiding it too.
• Migraines have been linked to hypothyroidism, and you may want to get that checked.
Other natural remedies
• Michael Murray, ND, recommended taking 250-500mg magnesium up to thrice daily for tension headaches and 800-1200mg daily for migraines.
• For migraines, Dr. Murray also recommended 500-1000 mg of vitamin C thrice daily, 200-400 IU of vitamin E daily, and 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil daily.
• Chiropractic adjustments could help relieve chronic tension headaches.